SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS– – With the NCAA tournament coming to an end by next weekend, one can say that the comments made by TNT’s Kenny Smith were more prophetic than poignant amongst the viewership. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS– – With the NCAA tournament coming to an end by next weekend, one can say that the comments made by TNT’s Kenny Smith were more prophetic than poignant amongst the viewership.
On last Thursday’s broadcast of TNT’s “Listen Up” with Charles Barkley, towards the end of the show Smith had posted his “Five Reasons for Staying In School”. Now for many this may have seemed like a skit of some sort but let’s take the bit for what it was intended to be; a highly non-intellectual kick in the pants for all those high school/college athletes looking to jump into the pros I want to expound on what Kenny said that night and also touch a little bit more on what Spike Lee said as well on the show. To begin with let’s look at Kenny’s list and pick just three of the five areas he talked about.
• “If you aren’t the go to man on your college team, you need to stay in school.” As many will tell you, the 12th man on the roster isn’t going to the pros. Heck the eighth man on the roster, the seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth and maybe even the third or second man on the roster isn’t going either. That’s the percentage game that nobody tells athletes, especially Black athletes, about. For example the Uconn Huskies lost to the Texas Longhorns on March 28th and they have a player on the roster named Hilton Armstrong. How many people know who Hilton Armstrong is? Okay maybe that is a stretch. How about this one, Taliek Brown? Denham Brown? Emaka Okafor? Ben Gordon? Now that was the starting five for the Huskies that night and if you don’t know any of those players then you can almost bet the house that none of them will be going pro at this very moment. Now maybe somebody will this year but if I had my chance to talk with them it would be keep your butt in school unless you are a senior. That leads me into this point for the high school players that Kenny mentioned and it is as follows.
• Unless you’re LeBron, stay in school. High schoolers this isn’t no joke. LeBron James will be the only high school player taken this year in the draft. Out of six players last year, only Amare Stoudamire was taken. The point is very simple, high school players need to forget the notion that they are the next “phenom” coming from the playground. The NBA stands for “No Babies Allowed” and unless your game is that strong, like a Lebron James or Stoudamire or Kobe Bryant, this isn’t the time to be thinking you can be the man.
• If you’re poor, stay in school; better yet, go to school. What’s the worse advice given to minority athletes these days, “You’re poor. You need to make a paycheck for your family in the NBA or NFL or MLB”. Yeah whatever dude. People listen up to this one because it homes more than the other two points will ever do. If you’re black, gifted and talented in athletics and you got a chance to go to a big college on a scholarship that allows you to showcase your talents, don’t screw it up, go for it. Also don’t think that your skills on the court are your meal ticket out of the land of poverty because that simply isn’t the case. The number of athletes who will make it into the pros are so miniscule at best that it isn’t even worth putting down on paper. The numbers have been shown time and time again but nobody in the black community is paying any attention to that fact. Now Spike Lee was on the show earlier and he even touched on trying to recompense the athletes for their hard work for a school. “Being an athlete at a Division 1 school is a full time job and these players need to be compensated for that,” Lee said.
I agree whole-heartedly but that doesn’t mean that they need to be paid the exhorbant amount of money at the end of the rainbow that both he and Smith were talking about. No what needs to be done is for every school to make sure they have a support system in place that allows for the athlete to grow but still be able to be a student in every